|Fun at the park!|
Only take healthy dogs to play at a dog park. Young puppies and dogs with compromised health should stay away. It's important your dog be protected through vaccinations and any other necessary medications to be sure they are not at risk for catching something from another dog at the park. It's also just as important to keep your dog home if he has something that could put other dogs at risk. Also, dogs that aren't feeling well might not act like themselves, and behavior issues, like unusual aggression, could arise due to the discomfort they're feeling.
|A dog's dream!|
Be honest with yourself about your dog's personality. If your dog greets other dogs or people in a rude or intrusive manner, a dog park might not be for him. If you dog gets scared of other dogs or strange people, stay away from dog parks. These qualities don't simply disappear because you're at a dog park.
Go to the park alone first. Assess a usual day in the time you might go. Notice the types of dogs that are there. Look for how the owners are conducting themselves. Also look for anything you'll need to bring for your dog when you go, like poop bags (what dog parent doesn't carry these everywhere?), water and bowls for example. Not all parks are equipped with these things.
Unleash your dog inside a dag park. Keeping a dog leashed in a dog park is dangerous for a few reasons. It's definitely a tripping hazard for other dogs and people, but t also creates fear and frustration in dogs who are leashed being around other unleashed dogs. Fear and frustration can trigger aggression and therefor fighting.
Recognize when your dog has had enough. Look for signs of being tired or feeling annoyed. Dogs that are done with their time in the park should head out. You don't want to overdo it and stress your pup.
Use parks with separate areas for large and small dogs. Small dogs sound and move differently and could provoke a larger dog into going after it as prey. Also, for obvious reasons, simply the size difference can cause unwanted injuries.
|Dogs at play|
Make sure your dog has strong recall skills before heading to a dog park. You want to be able to get your dog's attention and get him away from any situation you might need to in the park.
Don't allow your dog to be a bully! Too many people think excessive nipping, biting and pouncing is cute play, but that's not always the case. If your dog is aggravating another dog, trying to get them to wrestle around, generally not leaving the uninterested dog alone, you need to stop your dog before it becomes a problem. It is rude and can lead to danger. You don't let the dogs just sort this out, you have to act.
If your dog resource guards, a dog park is probably not for you either. Even if the rules don't allow them, toys and treats are commonly found at dog parks. In a pack of dogs, your resource guarding dog might feel particularly threatened should he become in possession of one of these items.
Last but not least... PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE! It's a distraction.You need to watch for potentially dangerous situations AND your dog might be looking for you to get involved and play! It's also rude. If you're tuned out, someone else has to watch your dog.